Sunday 18 August 2019

Online 'idiots' wrongly identify Ana murderer

  • Garda probe as innocent child identified as one of killers
  • Family of Boy B forced into hiding, court hears
Poignant: Flowers are left at the murder scene of Ana Kriegel, inset. Photo: Mark Condren
Poignant: Flowers are left at the murder scene of Ana Kriegel, inset. Photo: Mark Condren
Eimear Cotter

Eimear Cotter

A judge has urged gardaí to "pursue with vigour" the "idiots on social media" who have identified the two boys convicted of Ana Kriegel's murder.

Mr Justice Michael White spoke out during a contempt of court hearing as it emerged that an innocent boy had wrongly been identified online as one of the schoolgirl's killers.

On Tuesday, two 14-year-old boys were found guilty of Ana's murder while one of the accused, Boy A, was also convicted of aggravated sexual assault.

The court also heard that the family of Boy B had been forced into hiding after the boys' photos and identities were posted online.

The teenagers cannot be identified because they are children under the Children Act 2001 and due to orders made by Mr Justice Paul McDermott during the trial. Representatives of Facebook and Twitter were in court yesterday after Mr Justice White ordered they appear to answer allegations of contempt of court over the publication of photographs identifying the two boys.

The social media companies said they were respectful of the law and the court, and aware of the sensitive nature of the trial.

An injunction ordering the firms to remove any photographs or material which identifies the two boys will remain in place.

The interim injunction was amended slightly yesterday and now relates to material or photos tending to identify Boy A and Boy B which the social media giants "become aware of or which is brought to their attention".

An order on Wednesday had directed the companies to remove photos and restrained further publication of any material identifying Boy A and Boy B.

The teenagers cannot be identified because they are children under the Children Act 2001 and due to orders made by Mr Justice Paul McDermott during the trial.

That order was made on an ex parte basis in the absence of Twitter and Facebook.

Representatives of Facebook and Twitter were in court yesterday after a judge ordered they be brought before him to answer allegations of contempt of court over the publication of photographs identifying the two boys.

The social media companies argued they could not stop in advance what users chose to post on their platforms.

Brendan Grehan SC, for the DPP, said the DPP had acted with speed on Tuesday in seeking the orders as it was aware material identifying the boys was online and there was concern it could go viral.

Rossa Fanning SC, for Facebook, said there was no legal basis for suggesting Facebook was in contempt of court.

He said there was no requirement for the order to remain in place against Facebook, which had acted "extremely expeditiously" to remove any material.

Facebook had also used image matching technology to block the images from being re-posted by other users.

However, Mr Fanning said other photos could emerge which the software might not detect.

Mr Fanning said Facebook was not aware of the names of Boy A and Boy B and he was concerned that Facebook could inadvertently and unknowingly be in breach of a court order, and asked the court to lift the injunctions.

Andrew Fitzpatrick SC, for Twitter, said it had taken immediate steps to remove the posts once it had been informed of them.

However, Mr Fitzpatrick said Twitter could not stop in advance what users choose to post on its platform.

Mr Grehan told the court he wanted the "stick" of the injunctions to remain in place.

He went on to add that contempt of court proceedings were still live.

The order was amended slightly, directing the companies to remove material which "they become aware of or which is brought to their attention".

Mr Justice Michael White adjourned the matters for two weeks.

Meanwhile, gardaí are investigating the posting of images online which claim to show the two boys convicted of Ana's murder.

Irish Independent

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